10 ways Google Classroom will make learning better

10 ways Google Classroom will make learning better

Google has jumped into the learning management system world. There’s plenty of promise of streamlined, improved learning. Here are ways I think it will help. (Official Google Blog)

Google’s launch into the learning management system world was received with a lot of buzz.

Classroom, a centralized place for teachers and students to communicate, work on assignments and have discussions, is scheduled for release in September 2014.

As a teacher who utilizes Google Apps for Education every day in his classroom, this has certainly piqued my interest. I’ve been gathering any resources about Google Classroom I can find, including:

Not all of the details are out there yet as Google is still making changes before making Classroom available in beta this summer and to everyone in the fall. But as details come out, here’s how I’m hopeful it will make life easier.

It could …

1. Put all of our Google Apps work in one place — My students do a lot of bouncing around in their use of Google Apps. We have a class website with links to important documents. We turn in and collaborate on documents via gClassFolders. Classroom will probably save time and headaches in trying to find scripts, add-ons and solutions to making Google Apps work with what teachers want to do.

2. Make more features available to teachers of all tech ability levels — This year, I’ve managed and tweaked Google Apps by using Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo to make my Google products work for me. I know how to install and modify these features, but many teachers don’t. Classroom appears to integrate many of these favorite geeky Google features into Classroom in a way that makes them accessible to anyone.

3. Centralize communication between teachers and students — In Google Apps, among others, there are comments within files, chats within files and Gmail. As far as a home base for a class, the options are few (aside from creating a website for your class). Classroom is supposed to integrate Gmail, class announcements and a question-and-answer feature for one-stop classroom communication.

4. Simplify providing feedback on assessments to students — I have struggled to find a good solution to giving assessment feedback to students. Autocrat will create documents with data from a spreadsheet for each individual student. Flubaroo will grade assessments made in Google Forms. Classroom looks to do what other learning management systems (like My Big Campus, Canvas and Schoology) do and give teachers an easily accessible place to provide assessment feedback.

5. Make classroom creation a breeze — Creating shared folders in gClassFolders has been a huge time saver for me. But it’s not easy — especially if you’ve never created them before. Classroom incorporates an invite code — much like Edmodo does — to streamline and simplify the process.

6. Make other learning management systems shudder — This will be a byproduct of Classroom, and it will improve learning. If other LMS’s want to stay at the table and stay relevant, they’re going to have to pull out all of the stops.

7. Become a permanent fixture for Google — This is one huge concern about Classroom I have. I became a fan of Google Reader, which collected blog posts and other publications to RSS in one easy-to-access place. Then Google discarded this service — one that had a very loyal user base. Google has a history of doing this to features that don’t meet its needs anymore. If I’m making the switch to Classroom, I’d like to know that Google has committed to it.

8. Save some trees and sore muscles — Hauling papers around is a huge hassle. Google Apps for Education has saved me time, paper and tired arms. Google Classroom will certainly do that, too.

9. Provide a grade-recording interface — Logging grades has been handled by most schools in separate software. Google Classroom appears to have a grade management option (see screenshot). With powerful communication tools incorporated, sharing grade information with the right audiences could be really easy with Classroom.

10. Become a hub for all Google Apps work for all classes — Not only can Classroom become a go-to location for your class, it can become the place for all of a school’s classes. In my school, teachers house their digital work in various locations. Having it all in one place will certainly streamline efforts.

What else interests you about Google Classroom? What features does it need to have? Share your comments below!

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

summer of elearning 2014 vertMatt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22 thoughts on “10 ways Google Classroom will make learning better

  1. As Chromecast now does with Google Presentations, it would be great to have a “send to Chromecast” option in order to share anything created using the classroom LCD projector or other media device which works with Chromecast. Also a markup Add-on for using with the Chromecast would be nice. I can see many features that would be great to have available which could replace a number of other hardware and software items currently used in the classroom. The ability to get them all working together and still be simple to use, is a key factor in getting teaching staff to use this as the primary tool for collaboration as we are all adopting the Common Core Standards.

    • Good question. I only found out about the grade book feature by seeing it quickly on a video, so I know very little about it. My guess is that it will be a very standard gradebook without advanced or different ways of grading (i.e. proficiency-based grading). I guess we will all find out as more info is released and it’s opened up to the public!

  2. Our district is pushing Schoology as a LMS. We are also a GAFE district. I’m not thrilled with Schoology so far – very sluggish, hard for students to find classwork unless it’s attached to calendar dates (repeatedly), and it just doesn’t thrill me. Using Google Apps feels complicated/cumbersome – I’ve begun using some Google add-ons, like Doctopus & extensions like Goobric, but I can’t wait to see Google Classroom! Thoughts comparing Schoology & Google Classroom? Are there reasons to go with Classroom instead of Schoology?

    • Hello Jane,

      My comment is WOW! I have never been so excited about the release of something from Google in a long time! My role in my district is to promote and lead the use of Desire2Learn as a Learning Management System. To use the word in a previous post, I am starting to “shudder”. I asked for a preview and have already pushed out a few announcements and assignments to my ‘class’ using Classroom and it have been completely seamless.

      The only small concern I have at this moment is the ability to manage CONTENT. I am sure that Google will solve this soon.

      I will invite you, or anyone, who would like to see Classroom in action, please contact me and I will make you a student in my class and we can learn more together.

      • Hi Joe, I know the release is for this week but I wouldnt mind a an invite to give it a test drive. Im just anxious. So if you are stiil inviting as ‘student’ please be kind as to do so admin[at]lubutotrustcollege.com thanks.

        • Hello Jerry,

          I have added you to our domain at the WECDSB.
          Please login using:
          jerrysakala@mytools2go.ca
          wecdsbpass

          Then simply open a new tab in Chrome and enter, “classroom.google.com”

          I have added you to a class I used this summer to push out content for some PD.

          Please get back to me about maybe exploring some more!

  3. Now, I LOVE Schoology. It does work with Google Drive and my students enjoy the simplicity of it. They struggle with Google Drive. We became a GAFE school this year and have a lot to learn. I, too, would welcome a comparison of the two and hope the two will play nicely together.

    I appreciate your research and the links you provided.

  4. Very foolish of Google to release this after school begins and putting the technology staff in a position to have to train while the beginning of the year madness is going on. They could cushion the blow by enabling access before school for IT departments to learn and prepare training materials, but even that seems to be a lottery system with many losing out and having to play catch up when school starts.

  5. Yes, a very exciting prospect. Hopefully, with the longer history of Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom will not be ditched.

    The future for the digital classroom is this way and with the centralization and automation, it saves both teachers and students from more headache and misery like lost notes, assignments and grades while eliminating the physical weight and volume of paper piled high and strewn everywhere.

  6. As our school rolls out Chromebooks in the next school year and we begin using digital materials provided by the textbook companies, I wonder when the software companies that schools use for record keeping, state test score reporting, and grade books will figure out how to communicate with these Learning Management Systems. Whether we’re using Google Classroom or the platform provided by the textbook company, there are multiple features allowing for automatic test and quiz grading and reporting. The software used by schools, however, still requires teachers to enter grades by hand. Until this software (eg., STI) talks to the LMSs we’re using, this is still a 20th century activity that is a waste of time in my mind.

    • The integration will come. To speed up the process, if schools and teachers make enough noise, the publishers of such systems will respond.

      If Google Classroom becomes big enough (a good chance it will), like support for Windows, developers will jump on board to make sure their systems integrate with classroom.

      The move towards a paperless, or near paperless, education model will come.

  7. I was granted access to Classroom today. My question is…will Flubaroo and Doctopus (Goobric) no longer be needed?? Does Classroom already have that functionality? Also, I teach Language Arts…I wonder if there’s a way to create sub folders within my class for grammar, lit, vocab, etc.

  8. My school just went one-to-one with macbook airs for every student. As a math teacher I am struggling with finding any LMS that supports math type. Do you know if google classroom is going to do anything to support math classrooms? Schoology is what I am using now and the kids find it really easy to use– especially with the managing of folders within their materials page. Schoology does not allow for math type either through so it is lacking there as well.

    • Andrea — I haven’t heard anything specific to Google Classroom about making life easier for math teachers. That’s a considerable segment of the population they wish to reach, so I’d hope that they do something to make Classroom fit what you do. Best of luck, though.

  9. I am curious to see if Google will incorporate Classroom with Calendar in order to allow for public view of student assignments/due dates (for parent view)? I currently use Google Apps along with Apple iLife/iWork for content creation but push out my class assignments via Edmodo. Through Edmodo’s RSS feature I can use a widget inserted within my District class website (Google site) to allow parents to see student assignments in realtime (my assignment info/due dates need to be made available digitally for public parental view as a requirement of my district). Google Classroom does not have a feature like this that I can see so far. Not having to repost assignments in multiple places, multiple time in order to meet my district policy has been very convenient via Edmodo but if GC adds a feature where all assignments tagged to a due date could automatically populate a Google Calendar for public view, I would migrate all of my classes in a heartbeat.

    • Erick, this is a good point. I think when it came out, everyone thought that Classroom would be the “LMS Slayer” — the end-all, be-all. I don’t think that Google intended for it to be that way, and I think we’re all seeing it for what it is. It looks like you’re a great example of how Classroom may not be the best option for everyone. Your suggestion is also a feature that I don’t think would be too tough for Google to integrate — if it wanted to. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  10. I have been using Ebackpack.
    My district is pushing Classroom because its free.

    I still think Ebackpack is better product because of the annotation features.

    Does anyone have any insight?